League endorses Columbus school levy/bond package
Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008
The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus has issued its support for Issue 75, the Columbus City Schools levy and bond.
While the nonpartisan organization never endorses candidates or political parties, it does take positions on ballot issues that come before voters. The League has a longstanding public policy position stating that individual school districts should be required to assume a reasonable share of the financial burden and should retain the option of increasing per-pupil expenditure beyond this level through local taxes.
The League's assessment of Issue 75 is that the pairing of the levy with the bond was strategic, and will go much further in improving public schools than either of the funding mechanisms standing alone. The school district will be able to improve operations and infrastructure at the same time, for example, by replacing decade-old computers while building computer labs, and adding science teachers while updating obsolete lab space.
The League was also persuaded by the fact that the district has honored its promise of not coming back to voters for a new levy until this year and has made significant strides with respect to graduation rates, daily attendance, state report card rating, building construction, and fiscal management. Also, because the bond program, which has been very well administered in Columbus, replaces a previous bond that is expiring, the tax on that side remains essentially the same.
The levy package will restore the shortened school day, restore the PEAK in-school suspension program for older students, and help the district meet new Ohio Core Curriculum requirements for lab sciences. The levy will allow the district to open four new magnet schools, similar to Columbus Alternative High School, that have the best record of success in Columbus. Moreover, in order to draw down 30 percent in matching funds from the state school facilities agency, Columbus must raise 70 percent through the bond.
The League took no position on any of the other local issues on the Franklin County ballot, but the League of Women Voters of Ohio took positions on four of the five statewide ballot issues.